Egypt: Sentencing of human rights lawyer Ms. Mahienour El-Massry

16/01/2018
Urgent Appeal

New information
EGY 006 / 1217 / OBS 120.1

Arbitrary detention /
Judicial harassment /
Sentencing
Egypt
January 10, 2018

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Egypt.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the sentencing of Ms. Mahienour El-Massry, human rights lawyer known for her activism in favour of judicial independence and prisoners’ rights by organising peaceful protests, support activities for political prisoners and using social media to denounce human rights violations.

According to the information received, on December 30, 2017, a Court in Alexandria sentenced Ms. Mahienour El-Massry to two years’ imprisonment on charges related to protests held against the Tiran and Sanafeer land agreement in June 2016 [1] (see background information), which had resulted in the arrest of 60 activists throughout the country [2].

Her appeal trial is due to take place on January 13, 2018. As of issuing this urgent appeal, the latter remains detained at Damanhour prison, where her detention conditions have been deteriorating. Ms. El-Massry is indeed being held in a cell shared with 31 co-detainees, and cannot sleep more than two hours a day, on a 50-cm area.

The Observatory deplores the sentencing of Ms. Mahienour El-Massry, her arbitrary detention as well as her detention conditions, which only aim at sanctioning her human rights activities, in a context of continued repression against her and other human rights defenders in Egypt.

The Observatory calls upon Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Ms. Mahienour El-Massry, to put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against her, and in the meantime to guarantee her physical and psychological integrity as well as a fair trial in appeal.

Background information:

On November 18, 2017, the Misdemeanor Montaza Court in Alexandria ordered the detention of Ms. Mahienour El-Massry pending trial, for “participating in an unauthorized protest”, “insulting the President” and thuggery.

On December 16, 2017, Ms. Mahienour El-Massry’s family went to visit her in Qanater El Khayereya Women’s Prison in Cairo. There, they were told that she had been deported to Damanhour prison, which is closer to Alexandria.

Thus, on December 17, 2017, Ms. Mahienour El-Massry’s family went to Damanhour prison to visit her. They reported that Ms. Mahienour El-Massry had been put in a “waiting room” since her transfer. The waiting room was reportedly overcrowded and Ms. Mahienour El-Massry was prevented from eating, drinking or using the toilet. In addition, as the decision to transfer her to Damanhour prison was very sudden, Ms. Mahienour El-Massry was unable to pack all her needs when she left Qanater prison.

The Observatory recalls that Egyptian authorities have a long history of harassing and detaining Ms. Mahienour El-Massry. Already, in January 2014, she was sentenced to 2 years in jail for exercising her right to peacefully protest against police violence. Her sentence was reduced in appeal to six months [3].

Arrested again on May 11, 2015, the El Raml Misdemeanour Court of Appeal in Alexandria sentenced her on May 31, 2015, to one year and three months in jail with another lawyer and eight activists for “assaulting security forces”. This relates to an incident that occurred in March 2013, when they went to Raml police station to provide legal assistance to three activists. From Qanater women’s prison, she started a hunger strike with six other detainees on July 28, 2016, to protest against the denial of family visits in prison. After serving the 15 month prison sentence, Mahienour El-Massry was released on August 13, 2016[4].

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Egypt asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Mahienour El-Massry;

ii. Immediately and unconditionally release Ms. Mahienour El-Massry and all human rights defenders detained in Egypt;

iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level against Ms. Mahienour El-Massry and all human rights defenders in Egypt;

iv. In the meantime, guarantee the right of a fair trial and a due process of Ms. Mahienour El-Massry;

v. Refrain from further hindering the right to freedom of association, peaceful assembly and expression in Egypt;

vi. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially Articles 1, 6(c) and 12.2; and

vii. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Egypt.

Addresses:

· President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, H.E. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Fax: +202 2391 1441
Email: p.spokesman@op.gov.eg , Twitter: @AlsisiOfficial
· Prime Minister, Mr. Sherif Ismail. Fax: + 202 2735 6449 / 27958016.
· Minister of the Interior, Mr. Magdi Abdel-Ghaffar, Fax: +202 2579 2031 / 2794 5529
· Minister of Justice, Mohamed Hossam Abdel-Rahim, Fax: +202 2795 8103 

· Minister of Social Solidarity, Ghada Waly, Fax: +202 3337 5390
· Public Prosecutor, Counsellor Nabeel Sadek, Fax: +202 2577 4716
· Mr. Mohamed Fayeq, President of the National Council For Human Rights, Fax: + 202 25747497 / 25747670. Email: nchr@nchr.org.eg
· H.E. Mr. Amr Ramadan, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Egypt to the United Nations in Geneva, Email: mission.egypt@ties.itu.int, Fax: +41 22 738 44 15
· Embassy of Egypt in Brussels, Fax: +32 2 675.58.88; Email: embassy.egypt@skynet.be

Please also write to the diplomatic missions or embassies of Egypt in your respective country.

***
Paris-Geneva, January 10, 2018

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
· E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
· Tel and fax FIDH + 33 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
· Tel and fax OMCT + 41 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

— -

[1] The Egyptian House of Representatives voted on June 14, 2017, to ratify a maritime agreement that would place the islands of Tiran and Sanafeer under Saudi control. In the wake of the Parliament’s decision, protests erupted throughout several governorates of the country. On June 20, 2017, Egypt’s highest constitutional court stopped the transfer agreement.
[2] See the Observatory’s Urgent Appeals EGY 001 / 0617 / OBS 066 published on June 20, 2017 and EGY 002 / 0617 / OBS 070 published on June 26, 2017.
[3] See the Observatory’s Urgent Appeal EGY 001 / 0514 / OBS 045.8 published on September 30, 2015.
[4] See the Observatory’s Urgent Appeal EGY 001 / 0514 / OBS 045.9 published on September 8, 2017.

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